'Hamas holds biggest military exercise in Gaza since end of Operation Protective Edge'

Hamas youth popular army.
(photo credit:REUTERS)

Hamas held its biggest military exercise since the end of the 50-day war in Gaza over the summer, according to Israeli media reports on Thursday morning.

Residents of southern Israeli communities on the border with northern Gaza reported hearing sounds of shooting and explosions overnight.

The IDF Spokesman's Office told The Jerusalem Post that the explosions were an internal Gaza issue and did not involve the engagement of IDF forces.

Ground forces of Hamas's military wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades held the ground exercises on the ruins of Israeli settlements that were abandoned during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, according to the reports.

Separately, Palestinian sources reported that a member of Hamas's military wing was killed and four others were injured in an explosion in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday.

According to the reports, the explosion was likely due to a 'work accident' during the creation of explosives. Bilal Abdel Moneim al-Menerwai was named as the victim.

Since an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire put an end to Operation Protective Edge in late August, Hamas has frequently test fired rockets into the Mediterranean Sea suggesting that they are making efforts to rearm.

Navy officials have said that Hamas fires rockets into the sea every few days as part of an ongoing project to upgrade their weapons. The launches are meant to test a number of projectile models.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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